“One Size Does Not Fit All” For Addressing Sleep Problems

“One Size Does Not Fit All” For Addressing Sleep Problems

By: Irina Todorov, MD • Posted on September 22, 2022

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. If you have problems falling or staying asleep, look at your daily activities and identify what might be interfering with your sleep.

If you identify behaviors that are associated with poor sleep – limit them. If you identify behaviors or circumstances associated with a good night’s sleep – do more of them. We are unique and one size does not fit all!

The 3 Most Common Culprits for Sleep Problems

1. Caffeine

Some people can have a cup of coffee after dinner and fall asleep without a problem, while others can’t sleep a wink at night if they consume even the slightest amount of caffeine in the afternoon.

If you are sensitive to caffeine, be aware of the hidden sources of caffeine like green tea, black tea, cacao, energy drinks, soda drinks and kombucha.

2. Bedroom Conditions

For most people, sleeping in a dark, quiet room with a cool temperature is optimal. They can achieve these conditions by using dark curtains, ear plugs and keep the air-conditioner or fan running.

However, some people sleep better when the room is warm, or they are exposed to a white noise, natural sounds or background music at night.

3. Exercise

Doing vigorous exercise, cardio or strength training just before bedtime is usually overstimulating and most people require one or two hours to cool down before falling asleep.

In contrast, light exercise like walking, stretching or yoga can be a very valuable part of the bedtime routine. Try walking daily or as regularly as you can. A recent study concluded that the total walking time per week and frequency of walking per day were significant predictors of sleep quality among older adults. Walking more than once per day and a total walking time per week greater than 210 minutes were associated with good sleep quality.

Can Melatonin Help With Sleep?

Melatonin is our body’s natural sleep hormone and is produced when it becomes dark. For this process to happen, it’s important to dim the lights and stop using electronics and TV two hours before bedtime.

Consuming foods that contain high levels of melatonin can also be helpful.

Foods high in melatonin

  • Nuts, especially pistachios
  • Seeds
  • Fatty fish
  • Eggs
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Mushrooms

Creating a relaxing routine before bedtime can be very helpful. This routine should include something that adds happiness and purpose in our lives. For many of us this is the only “me time” after work and family responsibilities. This can be reading a book, walking, watching a funny movie (think of it as a laughter therapy and not a waste of time), playing a game, connecting with friends or family, knitting, listening to music or just simply “be in the moment”.

If you change your routine and still struggle with sleep, stress or optimization of your lifestyle, a physician from the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine might be able to help. To schedule an appointment, call 216-448-4325.

Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!

Irina Todorov, MD

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  2. Cheng HP, Chen CH, Lin HS, Wang JJ, Yen M. Relationship between Walking Activity and Sleep Quality among Community-Dwelling Older Adults. J Community Health Nurs. 2022 Apr-Jun;39(2):127-138. doi: 10.1080/07370016.2022.2058199. PMID: 35603873.
  3. Meng X, Li Y, Li S, Zhou Y, Gan RY, Xu DP, Li HB. Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin. Nutrients. 2017 Apr 7;9(4):367. doi: 10.3390/nu9040367. PMID: 28387721; PMCID: PMC5409706.
About Irina Todorov, MD

Irina Todorov, MD, ABFM, ABOIM, is a Family Medicine physician who believes that we all should strive to achieve optimal physical, social, and mental well-being. She looks for underlying causes of disease and addresses them with nutrition optimization, exercise therapies, herbs and supplements. In addition, she will work with you to address stress, sleep and motivation to change.

Dr. Todorov is board certified in both Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine and practiced for 7 years in Europe prior to moving to the USA. She has additional training in Herbal Medicine, manual therapies, mind/body techniques, and aromatherapy which are used to create a unique plan for each individual patient that is in alignment with the patient’s beliefs and preferences. She treats children, adolescents and adults. Languages include English and Bulgarian.

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